In Broadcast - January 2021 - 54

54

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 11 - Issue 1 | January 2021

InStudio

Cinematography During COVID:
How DP Graham Sheldon Utilized
Streaming to Capture the
Docuseries Behind Every Man

W

hen Graham Sheldon got
the call from showrunner
Johnny Fountain to be his Director of
Photography for Remote Production
on the new Behind Every Man series,
he was up to the challenge. Sheldon's
technical background, and his
willingness to try new and potentially
un-proven shooting methods made
him uniquely capable of professionally
capturing the interview-heavy docuseries amid COVID-19 restrictions.
Behind Every Man shines the
spotlight on the strong black women
behind famous men, focusing on the
passions, struggles and sacrifices they
have endured to support the men they
love. Hosted by Melody Holt, featured
couples include: Tammy and Kirk
Franklin; singer-songwriter Ne-Yo and
his wife Crystal Smith; Wyclef Jean
and Marie Claudinette, Usher and his
mother Jonnetta Patton, and many
more.
Each of the ten episodes includes 5-7
interviews of the various personalities
from their own homes, sometimes
across the city, state, or country.
Under normal conditions it would be a
challenge, but in 2020 it also had to be
safely COVID-19 compliant. And it had
to look fully professional - computerstyle interviews would not cut it.
That's where Graham Sheldon came
in. " There could be no crew members
on the scene. All equipment had to be
set up by the talent and their COVID-19
pod in their house, " says Sheldon, " We
had to make sure it was easy for noncamera pros to set up, right out of the
box. "
Keeping it simple was the mandate.
For the camera, Sheldon chose the
Canon C300 MK II thanks to its quality
of facial auto focus. Along with it
he selected the Sigma 24-70mm
lens because he knew he could rely
on its autofocus. " We shot in UHD
so post could have autonomy over
composition. " To avoid memory card
swaps Sheldon went with the large
SanDisk Cfast 256 GB. Their simple
audio kit would be set to " auto " .

Behind Every Man camera

For the critical real-time streaming
and monitoring he called his friends
at Teradek. " I needed a level of
confidence that it would work in real
production scenarios with people
who were particular. I knew that the
Teradek team would have it figured
out, " Sheldon reasoned.
" At the time Graham's production
was unique because there wouldn't be
a professional film crew operating the
equipment with the talent, " explains
Andrew Ng, Creative Solutions'
Director of Marketing. " We turned to
Cube 755 as our most versatile solution
to provide solid reliability, premium
quality HEVC encoding, and encrypted
security. The biggest challenge
wasn't the technology requirement
but ensuring the level of confidence
expected by producers familiar with
Teradek's zero-delay on-set solutions.
After reviewing the production
workflow variables, we were able to
deploy a virtual workflow that could
be scaled as needed. " A Cube would
be pre-configured to each camera
before arriving at the locations. At its
destination it would just need to be
plugged into power.
The remote video was accessed
via iPads, Apple TVs, and web
browsers using Teradek Core, the
cloud-based streaming management
platform. Sheldon was able to direct
photography and also provide the
rest of the production with a real-time
virtual video village experience.
The 12 episodes were scheduled
to shoot in April and May 2020.

They prepped 5 identical
equipment
packages
destined
to
travel
throughout the US, to
shoot multiple episodes
simultaneously. The camera
team was small. Melissa
Kirchhoff, the AC prepped
the packages and did
the turnarounds. " There
was a lot of turn-around
work in a rental house
that was otherwise empty due to the
shutdown, " says Sheldon. They met in
person only once during prep.
" We color-coded all the buttons and
came up with a laminated card so if
they were visual it would make sense.
If they were audial, they would listen
to us, " he continued.
To test their system
they sent a kit to
production manager,
Nicki Marshall and
walked her through it.
To
prep
the
interviewees Sheldon
connected
with
each
individually
prior to gear arrival. To scout, he had
them send photos or video of their
living space so he could plan the best
location and lighting setup. " We looked
for controllable light and depth in the
room. They couldn't be against the sun
and we needed good depth of field - no
flat-looking announcer shots. We also
walked them through Internet speed
checks to determine if we needed to
pre-prep Teradek Node modems to
assure reliable cellular connectivity, or
if we could get set for Wi-Fi. "
Fortunately
Sheldon
is
an
exceptional communicator. He says a
key point was to
manage expectations. Even the stars
had to get in the right headspace for
the level of work they would have
when the 6 Pelican cases arrived on
their doorstep. That's when Graham
and Melissa would pop on Zoom and
run them through setting up the
camera packages.

Sheldon was relieved at the
enthusiasm,
" Sometimes
family
members in their pod would help - a
daughter, sister, uncle, assistant. For
the most part no one had production
experience. Everyone from an 80-yearold to a 15-year-old was able to do it. "
Set up took from 30 minutes to an
hour and half.
Sheldon's main workload was during
interview setups - especially when
there were multiple interviews in the
same location requiring different
lighting plans. " Once everything
was lit we were mostly on autopilot
from the DP perspective. My AC
Melissa Kirchhoff would cover for me
when I bounced between different
interviews, " he adds.

Sample of Graham Sheldon remote
workflow for Behind Every Man

When the interviews started, Sheldon
viewed from his office in Southern
California using his computer monitor,
iPad, and phone: one on Zoom, one
over SLACK, one on CORE TV which
he calls " user friendly. " He invited
the production team stakeholders to
view the camera stream on their own
devices from their various locations.
How did Graham Sheldon react to
using this new workflow? " The talent
really got into participating in the
production so it all worked out. It's
amazing what you can do if you are
willing to embrace the craziness of
2020. "
Behind Every Man is currently airing
and streaming on OWN. Sheldon
discussed this workflow in CS Presents
episode 14, Virtual Production: The
New Wave of Digital Collaboration. You
can catch the recording at:
http://tdek.co/graham-own


http://www.inbroadcast.com http://tdek.co/graham-own http://tdek.co/graham-own http://tdek.co/graham-own http://tdek.co/graham-own http://tdek.co/graham-own http://www.tdek.co/graham-own

In Broadcast - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - January 2021

Contents
In Broadcast - January 2021 - Intro
In Broadcast - January 2021 - Cover1
In Broadcast - January 2021 - Cover2
In Broadcast - January 2021 - Contents
In Broadcast - January 2021 - 4
In Broadcast - January 2021 - 5
In Broadcast - January 2021 - 6
In Broadcast - January 2021 - 7
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In Broadcast - January 2021 - 55
In Broadcast - January 2021 - Cover3
In Broadcast - January 2021 - Cover4
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